Friday, 29 September 2023

Next birthday present

Next birthday or Christmas present

 Sheepskin mule slippers. My old pair is almost worn out. I've tried buying online, but the comfort isn't right,so I need to try them on, so M&S or John Lewis maybe.

Which probably means a trip to London.

Thursday, 28 September 2023

Update on Chemo

 Update on Chemo

I had my second round a couple of days ago, it went well apart from the difficulty that the first nurse had in doing the cannula. But the second nurse got it immediately.

I'm re-reading the Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell.

 I did have a side effect of the first round, rather bad constipation, but a few doses of a gentle laxative fixed that. It felt like the Flying Scotsman emerging from a tunnel.

My eating is normal, and yesterday I walked more than a kilometer, so my back is feeling a lot better.



Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Chemotherapy and a bike

Chemotherapy and a bike

I had my first chemotherapy today. It went a lot better than I was expecting.

They put me in a very comfortable chair, cannulated me (just a sharp scratch) and then dripped stuff into me for about five hours. And that was it. They gave me a cheese sandwich and soup for lunch.

My back is a lot better than it was when I first came off my bike on 11 September (which was the day before I was supposed to go in for chemo). And on the following day, my back was in too much pain, so instead of staring the chemo, I visited A&E (on the advice of the chemo people), which turned out to be a mistake.

So here's what happened with the bike. I was cycling on tarmac, on a road that was so minor there was nearly zero traffic, and I became aware that my back wheel wasn't running smoothly. So I stopped, had a look, and it was totally flat.

What to do? I thought, maybe I can wheel it back home, because I was only about a mile away. So I dismounted ... I put my right foot down on the tarmac, swung my left leg over the saddle ... but maybe I'm not as flexible as I thought, because I was a couple of inches shy of getting my leg over.

And then I toppled. I fell flat on my back, and banged my head quite hard on the tarmac. I was wearing a helmet, and it wasn't just one of these skeletal bike helmets, it was more like a motorbike helmet. So I knew I'd banged my head hard because of the sound the helmet made when it hit the tarmac, but there's about an inch thickness of padding between the outside of the helmet and my skull, so it didn't hurt my head at all.

But it did hurt my back.

I was able to disentangle myself from the bike and stand up, got off the road, and my back was hurting ... a lot. So wheeling it home was not now a possibility. Of course, I had my phone, so I called ladysolly and she came out in the car and picked my up. I chained the bike to a nearby tree for later collection (that bike is much too heavy for her to lift into a car). And she took me home.

At the A&E, I gave them all the details, and then sat and waited. And waited. It turned out that they'd had a major computing crash the previous day, and they were still recovering from that, and their system lost my details - lost me completely.

Eventually, they found me, and sent me off for a scan - of my head, which wasn't actually the problem I was presenting with.

After about nine hours total, I eventually saw a doctor who told me that my head was fine. "I'm not here about my head, it's my back!" I explained. So he pressed each of the vertebrae in my back, and told me that if I'd broken anything, I'd be reportinng a lot of pain, and there was no pain. So he discharged me.

OK, it's nice to know that there's no major problem, and I took some paracetamol to reduce the pain for a while. And now it's feeling pretty good. But I won't be biking for a while.

When I returned home today after the chemo, I did three walking laps round the garden, about a third of a mile, which told me that my back was indeed recovering nicely.

The main possible side effect of the chemo that I'm taking is nausea, and they gave me several prescriptions for that, two that I had to take, and others which were optional if I felt bad. But it's five hours since I completed the chemo, and I feel fine.

Sunday, 11 June 2023

AI, Nvidia and Mac

 AI, Nvidia and Mac

I've been experimenting with AI, and it's interesting. At first, I used my Lenovo Thinkpad, Linux and Easy Diffusion. Then I tried an HP XW6600 with an Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 with 2gb memory. Doing all this, I learned enough to know what I needed to use.

 So I took another of my  HP XW660 boxes (I bought several as a job lot a while ago), upped the memory to 32gb (memory is amazingly cheap now, 32gb costs £26) and then the really difficult question - what video card?

There is, as always, a trade-off between price and capability. The latest 4090 is around £2000 with 24gb memory and a very fast processor. But it pulls 450 watts, which means that I'd need a new and more powerful power supply.

I went for a 3060 with 12gb memory, costing £230. It's maybe a half or a third the speed of the 4090 (depending on what you're using it for), but at a far better cost. It pulls 200 watts, which means I can use my existing power supply, with a £5 adaptor.

And now, the monitor. I wanted a good monitor for this, and I have a couple of old Mac Pro machines, inherited as unwanted from family. They have a Display Port Mini connector on the back, and a 2560 by 1440 display, which is nice. But would the Windows box work with the Mac? The only way to be sure, is to try it. I did, and it works. Googling suggests that I switch displays with Cmd-F2, but that did nothing, and my recipe for success was to ignore that, get the Mac running, then plug in the Display Port. And that gave me a beautiful 2560 by 1440 display, for zero cost! The only big downside, is that it throws out a LOT of heat.

Monday, 29 May 2023

Half a trillion

 Half a trillion

 The Labour party claimed that more than half a trillion working days had been lost to sickness since the last General Election. 

Don't our politicians have any common sense? Any sense of scale? Half a trillion is 500,000,000,000. This is another Diane Abbott style of mistake. It seems that to our politicians, all numbers are equal.

There are 33 million workers in the UK. So that works out at 15,150 days lost per worker. But in the 3.5 years since December 1019, there were only 875 or so working days. So, somehow, each British worker managed to claim seventeen days off sick into every working day. Absurd!

I own a calculator, it's 36 years old. But even without a calculator, I could see that the figure they were citing was impossible.

So then they issued a correction.  Not half a trillion; they meant to say half a billion. 

It's Diane Abbott again.  All numbers are equally valid, and it doesn't matter if you confuse billions with trillions. And none of the people checking that initial press release, could see that the claim was absurd.

And these are the people who think they can run the UK economy?

Saturday, 27 May 2023

Grandson.4 has arrived

Grandson.4 has arrived

On 26 May, daughter.2 produced grandson.4. Welcome to the family!

Wednesday, 24 May 2023



There's been a lot of talk about illegal immigration into the UK, especially those crossing the channel in small boats.

This, of course, makes me wonder. Why are they vigorously waving this bright red flag. Is there something they're trying to distract me from?

So I looked at some numbers. Year ending June 2022, the total long term immigration to the UK was 1064 thousand. In the year ending June 2020, it was 711 thousand.

 The number of EU nationals has fallen from 312 thousand to 224 thousand. The number of British immigrating has risen from 90 to 135. The number of non-EU has risen from 309 to 704 thousand.

In other words, immigration has risen by 50%; immigration from non-EU by 128%

Illegals? 52 thousand in 2022. Cross channel in 2022? 46 thousand. Death by drowning in 2022? That's five. Not five thousand. Five.

So, the furore about cross channel illegal immigration does look like an attempt to distract from the huge rise in legal immigration from non-EU sources.

And where are they coming from? India, Poland, Pakistan are the top three.

We were promised by the Tories, a few years ago, that they would bring net migration down below 100,000 (2017 Tory manifesto, Theresa May). It is now 500,000. I think that they are trying to cover up their failure to reduce legal migration, by getting people steamed up about channel crossings, which are a tiny part of migration. It's the old "Look! A squirrel!" strategy.

Personally, I'm in favour of more people coming to the UK. My own grandparents were immigrants, from what is now Poland. We're short of young people in our labour force.

But I'm very much against this "Look! A squirrel!" strategy for covering up the failure of Tory policy.